Wis. GOP Senators Outmaneuver Missing Democrats
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
ARI SHAPIRO, Host:
This was the scene at the Wisconsin State House last night in Madison.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTORS)
SHAPIRO: Wisconsin Public Radio's Shawn Johnson was there and he joins us now. Good morning.
SHAWN JOHNSON: Good morning.
SHAPIRO: Shawn, what finally broke the standoff?
JOHNSON: Republican Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald said, otherwise, he was concerned Democrats were going to stall indefinitely. And he said the approach the Republicans took followed the letter of the law.
SCOTT FITZGERALD: I have consulted with the Legislative Council, the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, and have been advised that this proposal would not trigger the special quorum requirement.
SHAPIRO: So the missing Democrats had nothing to do with this, never came back to town, were not involved in the vote at all?
JOHNSON: No. I mean, basically they were outmaneuvered. They had really one extraordinary procedural move was met by another.
SHAPIRO: Well, as we heard in the tape at the top of this interview, the protestors were furious. Did they see this coming?
JOHNSON: University of Wisconsin, Madison graduate student and teaching assistant, union activist Peter Rickman was in the crowd. He was angry with the way this bill passed yesterday.
PETER RICKMAN: The way - the unprecedented way that Republican leadership here contravene fundamental, basic standards of democracy, has turned people from being inspired to take action against an unrepresentative government, that's looking to take away their rights, to just being angry enough to mobilize in a whole new way.
SHAPIRO: Well, Shawn, since you've been covering this story for a while, what do you think the likelihood of that is? Are the Democrats going to mobilize in a whole new way at this point?
JOHNSON: Well, I mean they definitely see an upside. They think that the level of energy that this has generated could translate to the ballot box. And already there are recall petitions being circulated against eight of the Republicans who voted for this plan. Should also mention that there are recalls being organized against some of the Democratic senators who left town; but Democrats think that, overall, this is an issue that energizes their base - certainly more than it was energized in last year's election.
SHAPIRO: Shawn, is the bill now law? If now, what are the next steps?
JOHNSON: That said, the way that things have happened around the capitol building lately, the circumstances of how they get to that vote and how it happens are worth watching.
SHAPIRO: That's Shawn Johnson of Wisconsin Public Radio, speaking with us from Madison.
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